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Trains & Subways

The Tokyo public transport system is the fastest and the most convenient way to travel around the city. Avoid the morning rush hour between 7:30am and 9am, as it is the time you do not “get” on, but rather “get packed” into the train cars. In general, both trains and subways run from around 5am to 1am. For train and subway maps, see Tokyo / Yokohama Railway Map.

You can buy a prepaid fare card which you can use on trains, subways and buses in Tokyo and Yokohama. For further information, see “PASMO and Suica”.

Trains

Tokyo has an aboveground train system which is run mostly by JR East. The center of the system is the Yamanote Line, which loops around the city and links to all the major stations. The Chuo Line cuts across the Yamanote “loop”. Apart from JR East, there are other private train companies. Japanese trains are very punctual, and quite reasonably priced.

JR East (East Japan Railway Company)
JR East Infoline

Phone: 050-2016-1603 | Hours: 10:00am-6:00pm

Subways

There are 13 subway lines including 9 Tokyo Metro lines and 4 Toei Subway lines. For ease of use, each station is coded with a letter and number. You will find these on platform signs and route maps.

Tokyo Metro (Tokyo Metro Co., Ltd.)                                    

Toei Subway & Bus
(Bureau of Transportation, Tokyo Metropolitan Government)

Buying a Ticket

The ticket machines usually have a “switch to English” button on the screen. If you are not sure of the fare, buy the cheapest one, and then pay the difference at the fare adjustment machine located near the turnstiles at your final destination. (This only applies to non-express trains.)

  • Single fare tickets
    Adults: 12yrs* and above / Children: 6yrs* and above
    (*varies among railway companies)
  • Multiple single fare tickets (Kaisuken)
    Buy a set of 11 tickets of the same fare for the price of 10 tickets. You get more free tickets at off peak hours and on holidays.
  • Commuter’s pass (Teiki)
    It is probably cheaper to buy a commuter’s pass if you have to go to work or school for more than 15 days a month. They are available in 1 month, 3 month or 6 month passes. Those for students (Tsugaki Teiki) require a certificate from the school and/or a school ID. To purchase a pass, go to the ticket office at a major station, or use the ticket machine.
Jorudan Train Route Finder

To work out the best route to your destination, use this website from a PC or your mobile phone.

PASMO and Suica

Both are prepaid fare IC cards (Integrated Chip cards). They offer a convenient way to travel around Tokyo and many outlying areas because they can be used for trains, buses and subways. You simply need to tap the card over a card reader as you pass through the turnstiles at the station or on a bus. You can do this in a “touch and go” fashion. No longer do you have to stand at a ticket machine and try to figure out the fare each time you have to transfer to a new train, bus or subway line. Especially, since many of the fare charts are in Japanese. It is more convenient to just add money to your (one) card at the beginning of your trip and off you go.

Suica is issued by JR whereas PASMO is issued by private railway companies, but you can use both cards mutually on JR and private lines without any procedures. For details on the accepted areas/lines/stations, please refer to the railway company’s website.

Both of these cards are also accepted at shops, restaurants, some convenience stores and vending machines where the PASMO or Suica logos are shown, which can make purchases “on the go” faster and easier.

To purchase one of these cards, you will need to locate a ticket machine at a train/subway station with the PASMO or Suica logo shown. You can choose English instructions by touching the word “English” on the screen. You can charge your card from the amount of 1,000 Yen. A refundable 500 Yen deposit is required.

Starting March 23, 2013, ten IC cards across Japan became usable outside respective serviced areas, which means you can use PASMO and Suica in other parts of Japan like Kansai, Hokkaido, or Kyushu and vice versa. These cards include: PASMO, Suica, Kitaca, manaca, TOICA, PiTaPa, ICOCA, Hayakaken, nimoca, and SUGOCA. While the cards are compatible, the station where you get on and get off must be within the same area, and you cannot cross areas on a single trip.

PASMO (PASMO Co., Ltd.)
Suica (East Japan Railway Company)

Convenient Passes for Trains & Subways

Here are some main popular passes for trains and subways.

JR East Pass

Unlimited rides on all JR East trains including the Shinkansen. Passport required for purchase.
Price: Adults 22,000 Yen / Children 11,000 Yen for flexible 5 days

JR Kanto Area Pass

Unlimited rides on all JR trains in the Kanto area including the Shinkansen and express trains. Passport required for purchase.
Price: Adults 8,000 Yen/3 days, Children 4,000 Yen/3 days

Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass (Tokunai Pass)

One-day pass for JR trains running in the Tokyo Metropolitan District.
Price: Adults 730 Yen / Children 360 Yen

Tokyo Tour Ticket (Tokyo Furii Kippu)

One-day pass for most trains, trams and buses in the Tokyo Metropolitan District.
Price: Adults 1,580 Yen / Children 790 Yen

Tokyo Metro One-day Open ticket

Allows one-day unlimited travel on all Tokyo Metro lines, and can be bought from the ticket machines.
Price: Adults 710 Yen / Children 360 Yen

Passes for Tourists

The following passes are convenient for temporary visitors to Tokyo, and are sold at airports.

Japan Rail Pass

This is a great deal for non-residents (foreigners on a “temporary visitor” status). It can only be purchased outside of Japan. The pass allows you to travel on any JR trains, including the bullet trains (except Nozomi), as much as you like during the specified period. The price varies depending on the duration of your pass and your seat class.

Keikyu Haneda and subway common pass

Keikyu from Haneda Airport to Sengakuji Sta. plus unlimited rides on all subways in Tokyo.

Keisei Skyliner & Metro Pass

Round-trip or one-way ticket to and from Narita Airport plus an open ticket for all Tokyo Metro lines. Only available at the airport. Passport required for purchase.

Suica & Monorail

Round-trip or one-way ticket on Tokyo Monorail between Handea Airport and Hamamatsucho Sta. plus a special Suica card. Only available at the airport. Passport required for purchase.

Suica & N’EX

Round-trip or one-way ticket to and from Narita Airport plus a special Suica card. Only available at the airport. Passport required for purchase.

Tokyo Metro Special Open Tickets for Foreign Tourists

Bargain tickets for tourists. They can only be purchased at Narita airport.
[Special 1-Day Open Ticket] (valid between the first and last trains on one specified date)
Price: Adults 600 Yen / Children 300 Yen
[Special 2-Day Open Ticket] (valid for two consecutive days (not 48 hrs.))
Price: Adults 980 Yen / Children 490 Yen

Women-only Cars

To provide a safe environment for women during the rush hours, JR, Subway and other train lines have clearly designated Women-only cars. During the specified hours, the only people allowed on the designated cars are women, boys and girls under 6th grade and disabled people along with their attendants, as long as one of them is a woman.

Delay Certificates

When a train service is stopped and delayed due to accidents, weather-related reasons, technical problems, or other reasons, a delay certificate called Chien-shomeisho is issued by the railway company. This certificate proves that the holder of the certificate is late because of an inevitable force that the holder cannot be responsible for. In the Japanese society where punctuality is taken for granted, it holds a great meaning especially to students and workers as it can be used as a valid reason for reporting late for school or work. While many times it will not be counted as tardy in such cases, the railway company does not hold responsibility for any kind of damages or losses caused by the delay.

The certificate is most commonly a white piece of paper approximately 11x8cm in size, with numbers indicating the month, date, and the minutes delayed. Small cuts or punch holes are made on corresponding numbers, and in some cases the minutes are written on the slip. Depending on the railway company a certificate is issued when the delay is as little as 3 minutes. The certificates are given out at train stations, sometimes distributed by station staff, and in some other cases placed in a box. Some companies release digital versions online, however, these may not have the same validity as the paper slips. Most if not all railway companies nationwide issue delay certificates, and very few bus operators as well.

Buses

Riding on a bus has become convenient, now that you can use the PASMO or Suica card. Within Tokyo’s 23 wards, you can ride the green, Toei buses. You pay when you get on and the cost for one journey is 200 Yen. If you pay with your PASMO or Suica card and change buses within 90 minutes from the time you boarded the first bus, the fare for the second bus will be 100 Yen. The fare for the third bus will be 200 Yen again, and 100 Yen for the fourth bus.

Toei Bus (Bureau of Transportation Tokyo Metropolitan Government)

Riding on Flat Rate Buses

Board from the front door and insert the fare into the machine next to the driver. Some machines automatically give change, however other machines will require you to make the change first using the same machine so that you can insert the correct amount. If in doubt, wait for the driver to show you. When you hear your stop announced, press the buzzer to notify the driver that you wish to get off.

Riding on Non-Flat Rate Buses

For buses outside of Tokyo’s 23 wards, the cost will depend on the distance traveled. When you get on the bus, you get a ticket from the machine and when you get off, you pay according to what the electronic chart says in accordance to your ticket.

Taxis

Taxi fares are calculated by distance and time. The start rate, usually around 710 Yen, is for roughly 1.5km to 2km, after which the fare goes up at approximately 100 Yen for every 300 to 500m. The fare is shown on the meter at the center of the dashboard. Late-hour fares (between 10pm and 5am) are usually 20% more expensive.

It is not customary to tip the driver. Taxi doors are opened and closed by the driver, so you should avoid doing this yourself. Most drivers do not speak English, so it is useful to have a map or business card with details (preferably in Japanese) of your destination.

All licensed taxis have green number plates. To catch a taxi, simply wave your hand. At night, available taxis will have the roof sign illuminated and by day a sign will be illuminated in the front window on the passenger side.

Tokyo

Kokusai Motor Cars | Phone: 03-5530-6001
MK Taxi | Phone: 03-5547-5551
Nihon Kotsu | Phone: 03-5755-2336 (special number for English operator) (Japanese Only)

Kanagawa

Kanagawa Toshi Kotsu | Phone: 045-743-0100 (Yokohama area) (Japanese Only)